Raising Leaders The Pain and Joy of Parenting
For the last ten years, I have made it a practice when I travel overseas to hand write my will and leave it on my desk in case something happens to me. I usually do not tell anyone about it. I continued this habit when I got married two years ago. Last month, before a mission trip to Lebanon, writing my will was quite tough.
My wife Joanne and I are expecting our first child, a boy, mid-June. Even though I had done it many times before, this time writing my last will and testament made me realize that there is a chance I may not ever meet my son. That was tough to wrap my head around. It even gave me tears. This simple exercise, gave me a glimpse into the love that parents have for their children and made me think about my parenting goals.
It was a great trip. I worked with Syrian refugees there and served in different ways. But the emotional moments at my desk stayed with me as I traveled. As I meditated on them, here is what inspired me about parenting and leadership:
Parenting is an opportunity to raise leaders.
I love helping others become better leaders because I know it makes a huge difference in their lives and in the world around them. What better way to raise a leader than to be with them from childhood, to shape their upbringing, to guide their experiences and education, and to stand by them and support them, and to pray for them and with them?
For us to raise leaders at home, or anywhere else, sacrifice and a commitment to personal growth is required. Our children will learn more from our traits, rather than the lessons we teach them verbally. What I learned most from my parents is what I saw in them.
Parenting is a privilege.
For some people I respect in my life, I know parenting is not something they chose. For others, they longed to be parents, but could not conceive. I hope for those of us who have children, we realize that children are a blessing.
Parenting is a great risk.
During my last trip, I visited a Christian orphanage that housed children ages 5 to 18. What happened to those families that caused the children to be in an orphanage? Death of a parent. Extreme poverty.
Sometimes a parent passes on. Sometimes a child gets sick and passes on. In either of these situations, there is deep pain. Tragedy can happen to any of our families. This came into sharp focus as I wrote my will. I know a friend whose child became homeless for a while. He lost his way, even though he was given a great upbringing. As parents we cannot control their paths, we can only guide them. Parenting is a risky proposition.
Parenting is beautiful.
Last week, as our clinic team met in the morning, we went around answering the question, “What was one of the happiest days of your life?” About half of those in attendance said, “the birth of my first child.” I am about to find out how that feels. In talking to others for the last few months, especially fathers, when I ask for advice, I get an almost universal response—parenting is a beautiful, amazing experience. I see the gruffest, toughest guys soften their countenance when they talk about their children. They become warm. Another comment I get is that having children changes you, matures you. It’s all a beautiful part of God’s creation.
I hope as leaders, we value our children and aim to powerfully impact their lives. I hope we love them and shape them into the best possible human beings and leaders they can become.
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